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HISTORY OF LIFE AND DEATH,
THE SECOND TITLE
NATURAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HISTORY
FOUNDATION OF PHILOSOPHY:
BEING THE THIRD PART OF THE INSTAURATIO MAGNA,
TO THE PRESENT AND FUTURE AGES,
ALTHOUGH in my six monthly designations I placed the History of Life and Death last in order; yet the extreme profit and importance of the subject, wherein even the slightest loss of time should be accounted precious, has decided me to make an anticipation, and advance it into the second place. For it is my hope and desire that it will contribute to the common good; that through it the higher physicians will somewhat raise their thoughts, and not devote all their time to common cures, nor be honoured for necessity only; but that they will become the instruments and dispensers of God's power and mercy in prolonging and renewing the life of man, the rather because it is effected by safe, convenient, and civil, though hitherto unattempted methods. For although we Christians ever aspire and pant after the land of promise, yet meanwhile it will be a mark of God's favour if in our pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world, these our shoes and garments (I mean our frail bodies) are as little worn out as possible.
THE HISTORY OF LIFE AND DEATH.
THAT "Life is short and Art long" is an old prover and complaint. It appears therefore to follow naturally that I who am earnestly labouring for the perfection of arts should take thought also, by the grace and favour of the Author of Life and Truth, about the means of prolonging the life of man. For though the life of man is only a mass and accumulation of sins and sorrows, and they who aspire to eternity set little value on life; yet even we Christians should not despise the continuance of works of charity. Besides, the beloved disciple survived the rest, and many of the Fathers, especially holy monks and hermits, were long-lived; so that this blessing (so often repeated in the old law) appears to have been less withdrawn after the time of our Saviour than other earthly blessings. But to regard this as the greatest blessing is natural; how to secure it is a difficult inquiry; and the more difficult because it has been corrupted by false opinions and vain reports. For both the common phrases of physicians concerning Radical Moisture and Natural Heat are deceptive, and the extravagant praises of chemical medicines only raise men's hopes to disappoint them. The present inquiry is not instituted for deaths from